What have been the biggest themes influencing APRIMIN’s members in 2021 and 2022?

The biggest themes that have influenced APRIMIN’s members in 2021 and 2022 have been the challenges of operating safely and maintaining operational continuity in a Covid environment, logistics, and sustainability. Due to the pandemic, mining professionals had to work longer shifts with greater self-protection measures, resulting in higher costs for the entire industry. Access to sites was more limited, so remote working became necessary. Despite these challenges, the system worked relatively smoothly in Chile, thanks to good connectivity, logistical support, and high levels of vaccination. The issue of logistics was also a significant challenge at both the local and international levels, and this has led to a rise in costs. Another theme that has been important is the move towards sustainable mining and renewable energy, which is leading to significant political changes in Chile.

Which areas of the mining supply business do you see as having strong potential for growth?

APRIMIN’s associates cover the entire supply spectrum, and there are many areas with strong potential for growth. The larger companies with deeper pockets have been able to advance further from an innovation perspective. Today, all the elements that operate in a mining operation produce data, and the big question is how to handle, manage, protect, and use that data effectively. Therefore, issues of cybersecurity, data protection, data management, and analysis are all very big opportunities. Another area of growth is the evolution towards the use of renewable energy.

To what extent do you think political changes, such as the proposed royalty bill, could impact Chile’s mining landscape?

Political changes, such as the proposed royalty bill, could have a significant impact on Chile’s mining landscape. However, there is a lack of understanding among politicians about the concept of a sales tax versus an operating margin tax. If Chile’s tax level does not allow the mining sector to be relatively profitable, it will not receive investment. In the last 15 years, there has been a level of remittances in the order of US$120 billion from mining companies to their subsidiaries as profits, but nobody remembers that in the same period there was also US$120 billion in mining investment. The proposed form of taxation is not well thought out, but we still do not know what the final bill will look like. However, many current investments were made with tax invariability, so these new taxes are not going to be immediate, and some companies have invariability until 2030. APRIMIN is confident that the mining royalty bill will establish regulatory conditions that will keep Chile as one of the most competitive mining districts in the world.

What role can innovation play to help Chile maintain production levels?

Innovation can play a crucial role in helping Chile maintain production levels. The Ministry of Mining and Energy delivered the national mining policy for 2050, which has several factors, including sustainability, as many operations in Chile have declining ore grades and are struggling with profitability. To tackle both these issues, an opportunity exists to reprocess tailings or ore storage facilities that were once considered uneconomic.

How does APRIMIN see the draft proposal for the new political constitution that is being proposed in Chile, specifically on mining regulations?

The wording and harmonization of the final text of the constitution is still being refined and must be approved or rejected by the plebiscite on September 4th. The nationalization of copper, which was the main threat to the industry, was ruled out by a large majority. The expiration of current mining concessions was also rejected.

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